Zoetrope: Browse the pages of Internet past

**This tool is not yet ready for public use, but it seems to offer a lot of promise, so we’re sharing it with you now.**

Adobe Systems, working with researchers at the University of Washington, has just debuted Zoetrope, a new tool which we hope can illuminate the past of the Web. Web sites and pages within those sites change so quickly that the past is easily forgotten. It can be very interesting to look back at changes in layout and content and to track trends.

We wrote about the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine as a way to look at selected snapshots of Web pages in the past. The Wayback Machine has saved a huge quantity of data and is a unique tool for preserving the Web of the past. Zoetrope adds the ability to track changes by creating tools for easily browsing past Web pages. Users could use a slider to move back and forward in time. As displayed in the video, you could also create a “lens” to track a specific piece of information like the price of gasoline and compare it to the price of oil over time.

During the current testing phase, Zoetrope creators chose 1,000 websites that update frequently and stored information captured every hour over four months. While this is much more limited than what the Internet Archive is saving, the Internet Archive has expressed an interest in sharing its data. Maybe soon we’ll be able to use the Zoetrope tools to browse and analyze the vast data of the Internet Archive.

The video best displays the cool features of Zoetrope. Take a look and comment on some of its possible applications for personal or research use.

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